Sunday, December 30, 2012

Inferior to Superior

Superior and Sysco

Annie and I had planned on hitting up St Jorge for the New Year's holiday but due to early season snow and below average cold weather in Zion where we had plans to do some scrumbling(a mix of climbing, scrambling , and hiking) we abandoned that in hopes of saving money and enjoying the new snow.

Nate came in last weekend for the xmas holiday so we got up early and headed up to ski Cardiac across from Alta accompanied by his brother Andrew. Unfortunately, despite the fairly recent snow, the skiing was well, horrible. Nate would say any skiing is great skiing, but being only a moderately stoked skier,  I found conditions to be pretty crappy. Ice, hard, no good turns. But we had fun anyway and got in around 2000' of vert, so exercise is always a good thing.

Brighton recieved a foot of snow overnight heading into Thursday, so I decided I wasn't feeling very well so I called in sick. Enjoyable day with Court, Pete, Stevo, and his visiting brother.

Saturday Court, Pete, Nick and I headed up Cardiac again with hopes of better snow. Court had his eyes on skiing the South Face of Mt. Superior at 11,040, which I now understand to be one of the classic ski lines in the most classic Utah backcountry area. We joined a conga line of sorts, skinning up the face in the early morning daylight till we reached the ridge. A variety of interesting terrain stood in our way of summiting Superior, including steep icy skinning, downhill sideslipping, humping the rocky ridge, testy switchbacks, a booter, and my personal favorite, attempting to skin over exposed gneiss and aspen logs. Court was the only one who managed to keep his skins on the entire time to booter territory. The rest of us managed to salvage our pride and gear through hiking means.
Skinning up the ridge

Pete deciding whether to keep the skis on or not

Courts hat is an avy survival tool. If he gets buried we can still find him.

We summited Superior with 8 other folks mid morning, and froze our butts off while the Alice's and Nancy's ahead of us took their sweet time clearing out of our potential slide path should we trigger an avy on them during our runs. Court and Nick skied right off the summit, while Pete and I took a more conservative line just north of the summit.

Nick booting up the final stretch to the summit with hunter orange-Nate Lowe-wannabe Court pondering his line

The snow was awesome. Deep, deep powder on pretty steep terrain. It was the biggest and most intimidating thing I'd skied in my life. Maybe that means something, but probably not as Pete said he was more scared of 5.10 trad than our ski line. To each his own. We hit the road 3000' feet later, and hiked the mile back up to our car reminiscing about one of the best ski days we will likely have this year.

Court skiing the goods

Nick enjoying the lower bowl screaming, "my quads, my quads!"

Yep, we skied from the top of that sucker.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

10k in a day

10,000 leagues under the sea, 10,000 stripling warriors, and the 10,000 maniacs. Ten thousand is a number that seems frequently used in the world for whatever reason. 10k vertical feet climbed in a day is a pretty solid effort for those endurance athletes who are up to the challenge. I have done over 10k in day only a couple times:

Grand Canyon R2R2R 11,300
Gannett Peak 10,280
Had we finished the full Zion traverse it also qualifies

I decided I wanted to do it a third time only without the severe mileages usually associated with such endeavours. My plan was to conquer the three major "foothill" peaks around SLC which basically rise straight up from the valley without much switchbacking, making for few miles but steep trails. The three peaks are:

Mt Olympus 7 miles RT 4200' (standard trail)
Grandeur Peak 4.5 miles RT 3300' (west ridge. standard church fork only has 2300')
Mt Wire 3 miles RT 2100' (via bonneville shoreline near Hogle Zoo)

You'll notice this only adds up to 9600' of vert, so in my quest I ran another small subsummit on Mt Wire to fulfill the 10k goal. 

I started up Oly around 8:30 and there were quite a few people on the trail. I passed a few couples dayhiking and also found quite a few runners barrelling down after what must have been pre-dawn starts. The trail was solid till the last 3/4 mile where it became quite icy, including my bladder nozzle. I had no water from here till I got back to the car. I slowed quite a bit due to the slippery conditions, and the 3rd class scramble to the top was one of the more sketchy things I've done in my well worn treadless Fireblades. (until I came down it that is). I summited in a decent 1:15  in a full on snowstorm and headed down. My "run" became a parody of the luge. I skated, skied, and fell down the trail till I was fairly bruised. I resorted to off trail shwaking to prevent furthur coccyx injury. Made it down in 2:20, which isn't a great time but I wasn't really going for speed.(i'll be back in better conditions to beat Stevo's time, though I am a long way off of Karl Meltzers FKT of 1:35. Yikes!) 
North summit of Oly from South summit

Slippery ridge

The luge aka How to break your tailbone. Sled anyone?

Grandeur Peak has a standard trail up the east side via Church Fork up Millcreek(current FKT is 33 min, just dumbfounding), but due to its high trailhead elevation, I opted for the lower West Ridge. There is no running this trail. It just is way too steep. Annie joined me on the 2nd leg of my journey, and we set off with poles in hopes of preserving my legs. We summited in just over an hour in a worsening snowstorm, then proceeded back down. We ran into poster boy Ari Menitov coming up with his dog, though no words were exchanged other than "hi". We were back at the car with a RT time of 1:45 or so. 

My hair and nozzle are both frozen. Summit of Grandeur

Somewhere descending the ridge

Annie bailed to go take a shower, leaving me my last objective, Mt Wire. This one is pretty short compared to the other two(FKT is 27 min by Sherpita, my best is 38min so i've got a ways to go). I ditched the headphones for this one, as I had heard that freaking clapping Imagine Dragons song as well as whoever sings that, "shines like a diamond, shines like a diamond" epileptic horrorshow of a musical concoction about 50 times each on the radio. I will kill myself if I hear it again. Starting at Hogle Zoo, I plowed my way up the slicker than snot ridge to the summit in a pitiful but understandable 50 min. I took another way down hoping for better conditions, but did not find them. A guy in front of me slipped and fell flat on his back, or so he would have had his dog not been right behind him. The dog got crushed. I fell about 7 times in similar fashion, often using trees as hand holds(or body holds) till I got to lower elevation where the snow wasn't so deep. I ran back up a small false summit, hoping it was at least 400', then punched it back to the car for a total elapsed time of 5:53 of "running" time. Great day in the mountains. 

Oh good, not much more uphill left. Summit of Wire

Stats: about 15 miles, 10,000 vert, 5:53 time, 3 peaks. 

One should recognize how pitiful this effort really is when compared with other "peak bagging" days by other hardcorers. My hero Jared Campbell(who we saw friday night at the gym) has done Lone peak, Timp, and Nebo all in one day. That's 16,000 vert over 42.5 miles. Sigh. I'm usually tired after one of those peaks. And there is always the WURL, or the new Skyline traverse, where basically every major peak in the valley is conquered, but I'll stick with being moderately proud of my feeble effort. For now.